Growing up I always knew that I wanted to be the best at what I do in life. School was always hard for me. I struggled in every subject and I never could understand why, especially with being so young. Everyone else in my classes would get good grades and breeze through tests and assignments, whereas I was always struggling to get by. I could never focus and was always stuck day dreaming. Despite my troubles in school, I always remained the joyful, bright spirited girl people referred to me as. Growing up very privileged, I tried not to take much for granted. I was very bright in my own way but it was always hard to explain. I was always coming up with different ideas and creating visions in my mind that I wanted to come to life. I never let my struggles get in the way of living a happy life. By the time I got to middle school, things started getting worse... I felt so dumb compared to the rest of my peers. This started to affect my self-esteem so much, causing me to think really little of myself. I started to dread waking up every morning, just to be reminded that I will never be good enough. I was diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development (National Institute of Mental Health). Coming into my freshman year of high school, this gave me a sigh of relief, because now I would be put on medication to help focus and get my mind on track. Finally, I would be relieved of my issues, or so I thought. The medication made me very sick causing me to lose weight. I already weighed under 90 pounds. I started to have mood swings and I would stay up later than I normally would. Things were not looking good for me. Soon, I could no longer take the stress, so I just gave up, not really caring about my future or life. I wouldn’t even try doing my assignments or tests because I knew I would fail. As I was going down the wrong path in life, I soon met someone that didn’t help my life at all, but only made it worse, my ex-boyfriend. At the beginning of our relationship everything was healthy and I had never been happier. I didn’t even think twice about my struggles; he was an escape from my reality. As months went by, my escape soon turned into a nightmare. I became worse than I was before, my boyfriend was verbally abusive in some ways that would just tear me to the core. Even through all darkness, I still stayed with him. What was once a healthy relationship, turned toxic in the span of a few months. I would write down my thoughts and feelings as a way to cope with what was going on. This made me feel a lot better and helped me get in touch with my creative mind. One day I was feeling so down about what was going on in my life that I turned to a close a friend of mine who had went through a similar situation. By connecting with her and hearing her story it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I always felt so alone and trapped because I felt as though nobody could relate to me. A few months went by and I ended up drifting away from my boyfriend. It was hard, but writing in my journal was a stress reliever. One night I came up with the idea of creating a platform for females to share personal stories, just like I did to my friend. I thought that if sharing my story helped me get out of my darkness, maybe it could help others. Having ADHD may set me apart from most people but it has definitely shown me how creative and smart I am in other ways. I might not be good in school but I have grown to love who I am and appreciate my creative mind. On July 27th, 2016, a good friend of mine who is great with technology got together and started my website: Girl Connect. I started Girl Connect on the idea of creating a platform for connecting and helping females from all walks of life. I want females all around the world of all ages to connect, get and/or give advice, lift one another up, share views or opinions on topics they feel strongly about, share personal experiences or stories whether good or bad, that could possibly help someone going through the same thing. Females can share stories about their careers, passions, hobbies and journeys, and not all posts on Girl Connect have to be positive. Girl Connect is an open book for every female to share a personal story. So far I have gotten nothing but positive feedback from people all over the world. I have been featured in a magazine, and two news articles. On September 20th, the Girl Connect iOS app launched to the App Store. Girl Connect has shown me that my ADHD doesn’t define me, but instead my dreams do.
Emma Fortini | 14e cosmetics
My name is Emma Fortini (14e). I am a make-up artist and the founder of 14e cosmetics. My passion for makeup started at a young age. I always enjoyed doing makeup for my friends, whether it be for a school dance, on the weekends, or any occasion that came my way. Art was also a fundamental part of life and following high school, I studied studio art at Cal State Channel Islands.
Mara Lecocq | Secret Code
I wanted to help solve a problem I was facing in the front row: diversity in technology and leadership. I always noticed I was one of the only women in leadership meetings, and HR would be like, “We want to hire women but we can’t find them!” And I was like, DUH, you don’t suddenly become an empowered tech leader when you’re 30! It has to start young!
Shreen El Masry | Be You Be Free
Ever since my earliest teenage years I could always remember looking in the mirror wishing I was skinnier and more beautiful. Why can I not look like the other girls at school? I was ashamed and embarrassed that I looked different and had an unusual name. I wanted to be blonde, tall and slim but instead I was short, brunette and stocky.